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bsn BSN: Buffs battle, fall 45-28; Liufau and Gonzalez injured

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Sep 17, 2016.

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    In a game that looked on the surface to be a “no lose” scenario for the Colorado Buffaloes, they lost a lot more than the game on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    The afternoon started on the highest of possible highs, as the Buffs showed no fear of the Big House and raced out to a 21-7 first quarter lead. It ended lower than anyone could have foreseen, with CU losing the game 45-28 along with their starting quarterback for an unknown amount of time and their starting kicker for the rest of the season. Visions of a program-defining win and a national ranking gave way to fears of another season of disappointment, as Diego Gonzalez was suffered a year-ending Achilles injury and Sefo Liufau’s season was cast into doubt.

    It all started so promisingly.

    Colorado won the toss and deferred; electing to allow the Wolverine offense to take the field first. They gave up a first down on the first play of the game but held to force a punt, which Jay MacIntyre returned 32 yards to the Michigan 49. Then, on CU’s first play from scrimmage they ran a double reverse that ended with MacIntyre completing a pass to quarterback Sefo Liufau for a first down.

    Then, on their third play, Liufau hit an 0pen Devin Ross in the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown that sent a message that the Buffs were there to play. If that message wasn’t clear enough, Chidobe Awuzie sacked Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight and knocked the ball free. Derek McCartney picked it up and ran it into the end zone to make the score 14-0 with less than four minutes gone in the game.

    The fairytale ended when CU was forced to punt for the first time just over six minutes into the game. Alex Kinney had his punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. It was a huge swing in momentum after the Buffs had nearly converted a third down on the previous play.

    After disastrous plays in past years, the Buffs folded like cardboard. Today they responded with a 10 play, 67-yard drive that ended with another perfectly placed Liufau touchdown pass to Devin Ross. This time he found him in the back corner of the end zone and the Buffs had a 21-7 lead.

    The Wolverines punted on their next possession, and the Buffs drove all the down to the Michigan 11, largely courtesy of a 50-yard completion to Bryce Bobo. But the drive stalled and then Diego Gonzalez missed a 36-yard field goal; the second special teams error of the game for CU.

    After that missed opportunity, disaster again struck CU’s special teams on their next drive. Alex Kinney, for some reason, decided to attempt a rugby kick without rolling out first, and he kicked it straight into the line. Michigan recovered at the Colorado 38-yard line and proceeded to score easily on just two plays to cut CU’s lead to seven again.

    Michigan kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 21-17 before CU gave them the ball back with just 43 seconds remaining in the half. That’s when a seemingly innocuous screen pass to Amara Darboh turned into a 45-yard touchdown that gave the Wolverines a 24-21 lead going into the locker room.

    CU took the second half kickoff and immediately struck with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Liufau to Shay Fields that put them back on top 28-24. We may look back on that moment as the high point of the season. Liufau was injured on the play before the touchdown, and he took another big shot after he released the throw. He limped to the sideline, but came out for the Buffs’ next series after a Michigan touchdown made it 31-28. He took another sack on that series and then went to the locker room for X-rays. He reappeared on the sideline late in the third quarter without his pads on.

    With Steven Montez at quarterback the Colorado offense was mostly ineffective, and Michigan added another touchdown before the end of the third to give them a ten-point lead.

    In the fourth quarter, CU’s special teams faltered yet again when Jabrill Peppers returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown to ice the game for Michigan. There was no further excitement, and the game ended with the score Michigan 45, Colorado 28.

    It was an admirable effort from the Buffaloes in many ways, special teams notwithstanding. Had there been no injuries, this game would have simply been an encouraging step forward for the program. As it stands now, the Buffaloes no longer have a kicker who can reliably kick touchbacks or field goals, and they may be without their team leader and starting quarterback for an extended period of time.

    Ted Chalfen
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